Community

Penticton man makes life a lot easier with Rides from Angels

Kimberley Higgins and 10-year-old daughter Serenity are especially grateful to Brian Brown and his Rides from Angels program that provided them with a reliable vehicle they say has changed their lives. Brown has received national attention for the work he is doing in helping people with transportation issues. - Mark Brett/Western News
Kimberley Higgins and 10-year-old daughter Serenity are especially grateful to Brian Brown and his Rides from Angels program that provided them with a reliable vehicle they say has changed their lives. Brown has received national attention for the work he is doing in helping people with transportation issues.
— image credit: Mark Brett/Western News

Helping people is not unusual, but the way Brian Brown lends a hand is definitely out of the ordinary — he gives away vehicles.

Just over two months ago, the 48-year-old began a program called Rides from Angels, which has already made life a lot easier for some very appreciative recipients of his caring generosity.

One of those people is Kimberley Higgins.

She has two children, daughter Serenity, 10,  and son Johnathan, 22, who requires special care for the challenges he faces.

For years, the single mom’s only means of transportation was public transit, a bicycle which she used to ride back and forth to the grocery store 12 months a year and her two feet.

“I have always tried to help other people and have a hard time asking for what I need but at that point it was the last straw,” said Higgins, who was working full time.

That was when she learned about Brown and Rides from Angels and reached out to him.

“The reply I got was that he would help me right away. I was very skeptical at first, somebody willing to give you a car for free? Doesn’t happen very often, right?” said Higgins. “But in one day I was able to take my girl to school on time, go to the doctor’s and get my son. For me this opens up my whole world.”

Brown, who works at the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Unity House, recalled his commitment to helping after learning of her desperate situation.

“I just felt inside of me, they’re not walking in winter again this season. Rides from Angels will not permit this,” he said.

Brown had earlier sold his truck and used some of the cash to purchase a van but still had a little money left over.

“I bought a 1988 Oldsmobile four-door Ciera sedan and gave it to Kimberley,” he said. “People’s reaction when I give them a car? I guess the first thing is they’re in shock and then they cry but they’re tears of joy because they can’t believe someone would do this but it’s happening.”

The first vehicle he gave away was the van which went to another single mother who had moved to the Penticton area after escaping a 15-year abusive relationship.

Along with the vehicles Brown also helps people needing car repairs or batteries and winter tires.

The money from the truck has long since run out and he has a waiting list of 15 people in need of help so right now he does whatever he can to raise money.

The organization itself has nearly 700 members on its Facebook page.

He has applied for charity status, which will allow him to give tax receipts for vehicles and cash he receives, but right now he relies solely on people’s generosity.

“Unfortunately I don’t have the money but I wish I could donate a car a day, there are just so many people who need help,” said Brown.

What he is especially pleased with is the ripple effect of his work where those who get help, like Higgins, turn around and give back in any way they can.

As well, in the short time Rides from Angels has been operating, Brown has already received national attention, having his nomination accepted for the Shreddies Search for Goodness campaign.

One of those people chosen will have their efforts featured on a TV commercial. From Dec. 12 to Jan. 13 the public can vote for their choice at https://www.facebook.com/Shreddies/app_177053992477756.com.

Anyone wishing to donate to Brown’s cause can email him at ridesfromangels@gmail.com or find him on Facebook.

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